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HAP Launches Grassroots Campaign to Protect Health Care in Pennsylvania

May 09, 2019

Today, HAP launched an urgent grassroots advocacy campaign to protect the use of monies from the Pennsylvania Tobacco Settlement Fund (TSF) to be used solely for supporting health care needs.

Since its implementation during 2001, Pennsylvania has committed to keeping its share of the TSF for its original purpose: health care. While other states have diverted TSF resources to help balance budgets and satisfy bond payments, Pennsylvania has been committed to preserving TSF dollars to be exclusively used for health care purposes, such as offset the extraordinary costs of tobacco use, providing care for the uninsured and indigent, and vital research.

This commitment could be compromised—and vital programs put at risk—if a legislative proposal to divert TSF dollars to satisfy a bond payment is approved, and HAP is asking hospitals to take action.

The 2017–2018 state budget allowed for the monetization of future funds received through the Master Tobacco Settlement Agreement in order to generate a one-time sum of $1.5 billion for balancing the state budget. Debt payments on the bonds secured during this process are now due. This places payments that fund programs critical to public health initiatives, investments in health research, and safety nets for high-needs patients in jeopardy.

Governor Wolf’s 2019–2020 state budget calls for paying the debt service using the Sales and Use Tax collections to ensure commitments made to TSF programs remain. This would preserve the TSF money to be used for health care program in local communities around the commonwealth.

The campaign is simple: urge your lawmaker to protect essential health care funding for your hospital and the communities they serve. Without your voice, patients could lose access to crucial essential health care funding.

Please take action now.

For more information, contact Timothy Ohrum, HAP’s vice president, grassroots advocacy, or Stephanie Watkins, HAP’s vice president, state legislative advocacy.

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